Watford reached a fourth FA Cup semi-final since 2000 following a narrow 2-1 win over Crystal Palace.
Étienne Capoue and super sub Andre Gray scored either side of Michy Batshuayi to send the Hornets to Wembley.
A closely fought game it was a third consecutive match in which Javi Gracia’s men registered the exact scoreline against their south London rivals.
It was the first time since March 1936 that Watford inflicted such a winning run against the Eagles. This piece of history aside here are five more things we learned.
1. No chance of a stalemate
Both teams went into this FA Cup quarter-final fixture having not conceded a single goal in this season’s competition. But that piece of statistic was always going to be vulnerable here given the Hornets and Eagles have shared three goals in their 2018/19 Premier League games.
That smile 😁
— Watford Football Club (@WatfordFC) March 16, 2019
And, lo and behold, three minutes before the half hour mark Étienne Capoue, following a corner, put Watford in front. It was the Frenchman’s second FA Cup goal of the campaign having scored the winner in Watford’s narrow 0-1 at QPR in the previous round. However, that lead lasted 35 minutes before Michy Batshuayi levelled proceedings.
2. Batshuayi loves Watford
Palace’s slender 1-0 win over Leicester City last December was the first time in over two years they won a Premier League game without Wilfried Zaha, they’d repeat this track last month against Fulham (2-0), but these moments are few and far between.
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) March 16, 2019
It goes without saying the Ivorian winger is their most important player. With him missing others needed to step up. Enter Batshuayi, who didn’t let Hodgson down, his equaliser means he’s now scored in each of his four matches against Watford (five goals).
3. Super sub Gray keeps the run going
Watford have reached one FA Cup final in their 120 year history. It famously took place in 1984 when Graham Taylor’s side, featuring John Barnes, lost 2-0 to Everton. Since that day the Hertfordshire-based club have made four semi-final appearances in 1987, 2003, 2007 and 2016.
Andre Gray has now come off the bench to score the winning goal in each of Watford’s last three home games across all competitions.
⚽️ vs. Everton
⚽️ vs. Leicester City
⚽️ vs. Crystal Palace
Super sub. 👏 pic.twitter.com/kiJxZF3aQr
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 16, 2019
This latest success, which saw the Hornets stretch their FA Cup quarter-final winning run to four (having lost a final eight game in 1988 when eventual champions Wimbledon defeated them 2-1), came once again on the back of Andre Gray their reluctant super-sub. He’s now come off the bench to score the winning goal in each of Watford’s last three home games across all competitions
4. Hodgson’s quarter-final curse remains
Despite a long career, which has seen him manage no fewer than six English clubs, Roy Hodgson has a modest record in world football’s oldest club competition. Before joining boyhood club Palace his previous best runs ended in this round with Fulham (2008/09 and 2009/10).
So, this was a chance of reaching a first semi-final berth, unfortunately Watford had other ideas meaning Hodgson’s wait to lead a side out at Wembley in the FA Cup goes on for another season at least.
5. A hero’s farewell
Heurelho Gomes will be hanging up his gloves this summer ending a 17-year playing career which has seen him keep goal in his native Brazil with Cruzeiro (2002-04) before representing Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven (2004-08) – where he collected a couple of league titles – Tottenham (2008-14), Bundesliga outfit 1899 Hoffenheim (2013) and now Watford (2014-present).
In probably his last game at Vicarage Road, Heurelho Gomes soaks up the applause of the home faithful.
What a servant he has been for Watford, they love him 💛🖤 pic.twitter.com/mD3fglRZqT
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) March 16, 2019
Since the arrival of Ben Foster last summer he’s been relegated to an understudy role and has prominently featured in their FA Cup run. This weekend’s game, barring any unforeseen circumstances, was his final game at Vicarage Road and the emotional scenes at full-time displayed how much he loved keeping for the Hornets in front of their incredible support.